5 gross and unexpected things that happen during postpartum recovery

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When I first got pregnant with A, I immediately jumped onto Pinterest in search of any and all information about what to expect, not only during my pregnancy but after the baby came. I knew that delivering a baby was a major medical event in terms of what happens to your body and I really wanted to know what I was in for. I found a ton of articles that all said similar things, but not too many that delved into the weird and sometimes nasty things that happened.

Needless to say, after A was born I was pretty surprised about certain things that happened. Some things were weird, some were a little annoying and uncomfortable and some were downright gross. If you’re anything like me, you are reading this post because you want to know all the nitty-gritty details about what to expect after you’re done expecting (or you’re nosy, also a bit like me!). So here it is friends. A no-hold-barred account of some things that I was not prepared for. If you’re squeemish or don’t want to know me that well, I totally understand and strongly encourage you to skip this post. Head over and check out the amazing Egg Stuffed Bread recipe that I posted earlier this week. Otherwise, you’ve been warned…

Here is a list of 5 gross and unexpected things that happen during postpartum recovery. This is a no-holds-barred list of what to expect along with some tips to make it a little more comfortable for you. It's especially great for first time moms with newborns.

1. The Bleeding- You may or may not have heard about this, but all those months of not getting your period are totally going to catch up with you and you will bleed for a while. If you’re lucky it will last a couple weeks. If you’re unlucky, it could hang out for around 6 weeks (mine lasted about a month). For the majority of the time it’s like a heavy period, but it does lighten up as it goes. And yes, there will be clots. Some can be pretty big, although my Doctor said that if they are alarmingly large (like golf ball size) to call them.

How to deal- Take as many of the mesh panties home as they will give you. If not anything else, invest in a TON of pads (the ones without wings seem to fit the mesh panties better). I’ve even heard of people wearing Depends, though I never tried that.

2. The Sweating- A week of so after returning from the hospital, I would wake up for the middle of the night feed covered in sweat. Now I’m not a person who tends to sweat much unless I’m really exerting myself. Certainly not in my sleep. But I mean, I was literally drenched in sweat at night. As it turns out, your body holds onto a ton of liquid while your pregnant and sweating is one of the ways your body gets rid of some of that liquid. It’s a totally gross feeling to wake up to and I think it made my hormonal breakouts worse. I also have friends who sweated a ton during the day but I noticed that mine was really only at night. Luckily, after a couple of weeks it finally let up.

How to deal- Pick up a couple of extra pillow cases and even sheets to have on hand. During those couple of weeks, I made a point to change our sheets much more frequently and change my pillow cases every day for my own personal comfort and to help prevent breakouts. Additionally, I started sleeping with my hair up so that it wouldn’t stick to my neck (I tend to always wear my hair down for sleeping under normal circumstances).

3. The Boobs- It’s no secret that your boobs can get a little crazy after childbirth. Maybe it’s because I skipped the breastfeeding class, but I had no idea what to expect and some of it was a little shocking. First of all, when your milk comes in, usually a few days to a week after delivery, your boobs get huge, I’m talking porn star scary-huge (and not in a good way!). Until your supply evens out, they get rock hard and sore. This is called engorgement. It’s pretty uncomfortable. Don’t worry, they chill out a bit once your supply evens out.

Additionally, you may experience some level of leakage which could range from light dripping to all out boob spray. I personally noticed some light dripping once in a while after a hot shower. Many people experience leakage when they hear their baby crying. I even had a friend tell me how she knows someone that would leak if they heard other babies cry, though I never experienced this. It can also happen at inopportune times, like when you’re being intimate with your spouse (expert tip- marry a person with a great sense of humor for when life presents those awkward moments!). The worst for me was the random mornings that I would wake up covered in breast milk. No lie! It doesn’t happen often, and I can’t pinpoint why it happened but on those days, no amount of breast pads would have helped. It was not cute.

I also experienced some super sore nipples for the first few weeks, which makes sense. When people say it gets easier at around 6 weeks, they are right on target in most cases. So it makes sense that in the beginning, when you’re both learning your way and getting into your groove, things can get sore.

They also stop being pretty for a little while. You may have noticed the crazy, amazonian nipples that start somewhere around the third trimester. In my experience they go back to normal after nursing, at least they did the first time around (in all fairness, breastfeeding didn’t work out too well the first time and as such we switched to formula feeding during the first three months). The jury is still out this time since I’m still nursing with no end in sight for a while. You also might notice that your veins are super pronounced on your chest, which looks totally weird. And if you’re unlucky like me, you’ll have a lovely set of stretch marks on the girls as well (and my butt and most recently, around my belly button. Delightful). These faded after I finished nursing A but I have no idea what’ll happen this time.

Once nursing ends, your boobs kind of go back to normal. They no longer have the fullness that they take on during pregnancy and nursing. And while they aren’t in full-on, old lady sagging mode, they definitely don’t retain the same fantastic perkiness they once had before kids came into the picture. They a slightly sadder, deflated version.

How to deal- For engorgement, nursing or hand expressing can provide some relief. A hot shower directly onto your chest can also help. Also, get some Nursing Pads, good Nursing Bras (especially for sleeping), Lansinoh for those sore nips and maintain a sense of humor. In terms of looks, I haven’t yet found a cure besides getting resized for bras after you’re done nursing (maybe a good push up bra?).

4. Hair Loss- A few months after you deliver your sweet bundle of joy, your hair (up until that point has likely still maintained it’s gorgeous thickness that started during your pregnancy) will suddenly start shedding at an alarming rate. First of all, don’t be worried! This is normal and you will still have hair when this is all over. But for the few months that you’re shedding, be prepared. You will find hair everywhere, no matter what you do. I always put my hair up for cooking and we somehow still found hair in our food. When you get out of the shower it will fall out in clumps. And then, when it eventually does stop, it’ll start growing in and you’ll have a million baby hairs sticking out everywhere for months. With A, I didn’t notice the baby hairs for a long time because she was a summer baby and I wear my hair curly during the summer, so that helped. But the minute fall came around and I started straightening it, all hell broke loose. It will eventually get back to normal.

How to deal- Try to keep your hair up when cooking, and keep popping those prenatals. Folic acid helps your hair grow (and if you’re nursing, you’re probably still popping them anyway).

5. The Lady Garden- I can’t tell you if this applies to the Mommies who got a c-section, but you’ll find a ton of great info on that here. If you had a vaginal delivery, your recovery in that area could go either way. If you didn’t tear, you suck and we’re not talking (just kidding, props to you! I hear the recovery is a bit easier, but I cannot confirm since I was not so lucky). If you did tear or have an episiotomy, you’ll likely be dealing with stitches. Stitches suck because they burn like hell when your pee. I had quite a few stitches with A due to a second degree tear, which is the middle ground in terms of tearing. I only had one or two stitches with T since I only had a slight tear in her easier delivery.

You’ll likely notice some swelling for a little while, especially if you were pushing for extended period. I pushed for four hours with A and was swollen for a good week or two. T was out in a few minutes and the swelling only lasted a couple of days. Once the swelling goes down, you may notice that the string from the stitches is hanging a little. This is also no fun because it can cause chafing and irritate the area even more. My Doctor told me that I could cut the string, but I was kind of scared to go near that area with scissors so I didn’t do that.

In general, that whole area was pretty sore and and it burned near the stitched area when I urinated. This creates quite the conundrum because you need to be drinking a lot of water and staying hydrated, especially if you’re nursing. But your time in the bathroom is not the most enjoyable.

How to deal- Make these DIY Padsicles and be sure you take home your peri bottle and hoard the cans of Dermoplast (check out the postpartum Survival Kit for other great recommendations for the postpartum time). Make sure you’re gentle in the area and keep taking your Stool Softener, so that you’re not having to bear down as much.

Mamas, what weird or gross things did you experience after you had you baby(ies)? 

Check out all of my pregnancy related posts here.

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  • Reply
    Heather Johnson
    May 14, 2016 at 11:26 am Postpartum is a hot, wet mess! The sweating was awful for me. Also don't forget about the peeing. As your bladder heal from the pregnancy and birth, sometimes you just find yourself peeing without warning. How embarrassing! However, the whole hot, wet mess is totally worth that little bundle of joy!
    • Reply
      May 16, 2016 at 2:17 pm I agree- it's totally gross! Oh man, I haven't peed without warning during the postpartum (yet) more so during pregnancy to me, although I've heard this is pretty common! But yes, it's definitely worth it!
  • Reply
    May 14, 2016 at 11:30 am I don't have a baby so I was unaware of all these things. If I'm lucky to expect in the future, I'll know what's going to happen :)
    • Reply
      May 16, 2016 at 2:15 pm It's always nice to know what to expect :)

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